In January 2022, James Warren was passing by a bus stop in his neighborhood when a woman caught his attention. She was waiting for her bus, seated in the dirt because there were no seats at the bus stop.
“Oh man, that’s not right!” thought Warren. The 28-year-old felt sorry for her because she lacked an essential facility. He believed someone had to step in and address this issue. He said:
“For people to have to sit in the dirt while waiting for a bus is simply undignified.”
Seeing the vulnerable woman prompted Warren to embark on a mission. He didn’t want other citizens to endure such conditions, so he decided to help by building a bench.
Warren collected pieces of wood from a nearby construction site and went home to construct a bench.
Warren often saw his benches become targets for graffiti and then disappear. Having grown up observing his father using various tools, he knew where to draw inspiration.
It took him about three hours to turn the pieces of wood into a bench, which he then carried on his shoulders and placed at the bus stop near his home.
Shortly after placing his first bench, Warren realized that one bench was not sufficient for his Denver neighborhood in Colorado. There were many more uncovered bus stops without seating arrangements for passengers.
Warren had identified a loophole in the transportation system and was ready to address it.
After placing his initial bench, Warren transformed other wooden pieces into benches. He made eight for eight different locations, unsure of how people might try to discourage him.
Yet, despite often seeing his benches become targets for graffiti and subsequently disappear, observing certain people’s reactions did not deter him from building more benches.
He wrote “Be kind” on them. He was motivated by seeing others inspired by him—people were also building their own benches, and he witnessed this online.
Witnessing his benches being stolen didn’t demotivate Warren because the joy he felt seeing people sit on them encouraged him to build more. He knew he wasn’t responsible for what others did. He had only one mission: to uplift people in his community.
In 2017, Warren decided to stop traveling by car. Instead, he walked, cycled, or used buses. Over the last five years, he understood the challenges people faced while commuting by bus, which motivated him to build benches. He said:
“I haven’t asked the city if I’m allowed to do this yet… Until they stop me, I’ll keep doing it, I suppose.”
While traveling around the area, Warren, who works at the Colorado Workforce Development Council, often stops to converse with bus passengers waiting for their rides. Speaking with them helps him gauge the demand for his benches.
Often, riders also thank him for placing benches. They express how uncomfortable it is to wait for the bus standing up.
Warren mentioned that the kind words from people sitting on his benches “filled him up,” motivating him to build more benches and assist his fellow citizens.
Although Warren’s benches have different designs, they all share one thing in common. Warren ensures to imprint the same message on each seat: be kind. He believes that every individual can help those around them.
“By being kind, you can make a difference in the world around you,” Warren said. Having witnessed how his generous act inspired people around him, he wanted others to do the same.
After news of Warren’s unique actions spread, numerous news channels shared his story on television and social media.
Warren mentioned that people contacted him via Twitter and Reddit after reading his story, expressing their desire to help and be part of his mission.
Meanwhile, some individuals donated supplies to aid Warren, and others raised awareness about his mission. People hoped that the government would take notice of his benches and take action to facilitate bus users.